East Side, West Side

Header Image: Forest of For Sale signs in Oughtibridge, England. Terry Robinson [CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale

The Winona saga continues. For any newer readers to the Trail, Husband and I are planning to move from suburban Mpls. to Winona, MN, this summer. For the past six weeks we have been in house hunting mode, and after seeing probably 18 houses, have narrowed our choices down to two.

I’ve found find that every day a different criteria floats to the top of my priority list. One day it is size (not necessarily large, but well laid out), another day it’s a good sized kitchen, and on a cold, rainy day last week it was an attached garage (good luck). When we first considered, we thought we were maybe done with gardening, but when we started attending open houses in February, what attracted Husband was a garden space out back; and I found that I need a good tree somewhere on the lot, preferably outside the kitchen window so as to enable birdwatching.

There are two houses in the running, one on the East end of Winona (very near a friend that is like family), that actually has more square footage than our current home; it was remodeled in the 1950s, so feels like a ‘50s rambler even though it was built in 1895.

The other is smaller than what we’re used to (not all the furniture would fit), but has received some wonderful remodeling touches by the present owner, has hardwood floors and a GAS STOVE (they’re apparently few and far between), and is on a rather busy street on the West end, a couple of blocks from an old friend of mine.

We’ve made an offer on the East end one, partly because we’re aware of a ready-made community of friends near there, but I’m still waffling between the two.

What criteria would be at the top of your list if you were house hunting?

66 thoughts on “East Side, West Side”

  1. Although I wouldn’t object to a multilevel house, I’d want a house that has a bedroom and a bathroom on the main level. My fall in 2012 has made me acutely aware that I would have spent a lot more time in a rehab facility had we not had those amenities at home. As it was, I also discovered that my optimistic assessment that I would be able to navigate a wheelchair over the two very low thresholds to get to the bathroom was wishful thinking on my part.

    Our friend, Mike Mikkelsen, who had Parkinson’s and passed away on Valentine’s Day three years ago, had the right idea. He and his wife built a new home that was fully accessible by a person faced with physical challenges. It’s an open floor plan, specifically designed to facilitate access everywhere for a person with limited mobility. And it’s beautiful to boot. Of course, my financial resources may not be up to that challenge. As I don’t intend to move anytime soon, it is, as Steve said yesterday, a mute point.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantasy house or just requirements? Fantasy house would have big big kitchen w/ lots of kitchen storage space as well as screened front and back porch. Nice yard w/ good sun.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A yard with room for a fairly large garden is at the top of my list of criteria for selecting a house to purchase. Also, I would look for a house that has been kept up and doesn’t need a lot of repairs and maintenance. The house we recently purchased needed, and still needs, more improvements than I would prefer. However we liked the location and the style of the house which caused us to over look some things that needed work. Actually it was in fairly good shape and there were not too many large repairs or improvements needed.

    Another thing I would look for when selecting a house is energy efficiency. This would include appliances and a furnace that have good energy efficiency. It would be good if the house has plenty of insulation and windows that don’t let too much heat escape. We need better storm windows on our recently purchased house and we found that it needed more insulation.

    We were lucky in finding a place with a nice three season porch and would consider that a desirable feature when selecting a house. Another good thing about the house we bought is the nice neighbors on all sides of us. There probably is no way to be sure you will get good neighbors. It certainly is nice when you find out you have good neighbors after moving into a new house.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Neighbors really are important. Unfortunately, you rarely know when you purchase what they’re like. We’ve had our ups and downs, but by and large, we have great neighbors in our extended neighborhood.


  4. More than two drawers in the kitchen. A room separate from the living room where we could have the TV (so maybe I could play the piano while others are watching a movie…or vice versa). And a room of my own. All within walking distance of a library, good grocery store and a purveyor of decent wine (okay, I’m spoiled on that last bit…but if I’m moving to a new place, I want to take that with me). And in my very rich fantasy world, there would be staff to follow around after me and keep the place tidy and uncluttered…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. From what you say, I would probably prefer the smaller home. But that’s hardly the point. You can judge for yourself which home seems best adapted to your needs and habits. Don’t fret about finding room for your present furniture. What you need to fit into the new home is your lifestyle, not your furniture.

    My main thought is that you should try to imagine life in the new home when you are no longer as spry as you are now. PJ’s comments are useful. I used to think my pink bungalow was perfect. And for 34 years it was. After losing much of my mobility, the last three years taught me how challenging my little home could be.


    1. Both homes are all on one level except for basement laundry, which in the East end one could possibly be moved to main floor.

      And I agree about how it’s lifestyle that needs to fit in there… we want to downsize anyway.


      1. When you are young and athletic it is difficult to see a home in terms of how it will challenge a person with compromised mobility. I was oblivious to the fact my garage is one long step down from the back yard. But when I lost mobility, suddenly the step up from the garage to the lawn became a huge obstacle. To get from the garage to the house I had to put my grocery bags on the ground ahead of me, grip the doorway and lurch up to the level of the lawn. In winter that meant my grocery bags now had wet bottoms (not good!).

        People have been praising big kitchens, but I sure enjoyed my small kitchen (where almost everything was an arm’s length away). The kitchen of my apartment is so big it feels like I have to take a hike to get something from the fridge.

        If it isn’t too much trouble, I’d enjoy seeing pictures of these homes.


  6. I value energy efficiency and natural lighting. It wasn’t a consideration until we bought our current house, but having huge old cottonwoods, box elders and elms for shade on the south and west sides of the house has been a big bonus for energy savings. South facing windows are plentiful and in the fall, winter, and spring, sunny days are delightfully bright inside.

    A good sized kitchen is a must since I cook all the time. Doesn’t need to be huge, just well-laid out with a good work triangle and decent storage.

    Those items and a slightly bigger master bathroom with two sinks and space to walk into the bathroom at the same time a vanity drawer is open would be nice. (The shortcomings of our current master bathroom).

    Lastly, even though it’s harder to predict and look for, decent neighbors is a huge factor. We got lucky here in Owatonna. We’ve had zero problem neighbors in 16 years, with the exception of the motorcycle guy across the county road who has eardrum-shattering pipes on his bike that he loves to crank up as he’s pulling onto the county road from his street. We can hear those suckers plain as day even when he’s a half mile away. Makes me grateful for long cold winters so he can’t ride the damn thing.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Big kitchen and garden for me and nice porch for husband. My best friend, who is like a sister to me, will retire with virtually nothing , and we plan to have her live with us, if she wants, when we are all done working in the next five to 10 years. A mother-in-law suite will be essential. I guess we are going bigger, not smaller.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Well, thanks, LJB. I am an only child, and I don’t have that many relatives in my life. We would have to arrange it so that we all had privacy and dignity.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I would like a house that has a pleasant view. It doesn’t have to be stunning, just something that when I look out the windows, I feel happy to see what I see. For me, that would not be houses and buildings everywhere, but a view of some of the following: woods, fields, lakes, creeks, hills, sky….

    I also would like a big mudroom and utility room. It seems that the area that houses boots, shoes, coats, hats, and mittens always needs more space than is allotted them. Ditto for the laundry room/cleaning closet. And I would love to have those deep windowsills where you can put a plant or two by the window. And a place to hang laundry outdoors.

    I better stop there.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. My fantasy home is the one I’m already living in. My favorite names for it are the “enchanted cottage” or “mini-lodge”. The walls are full of Christmas’s past; gazing at the bay is the same as meditation. If I could change anything, it’d be to have civil and friendly neighbors.

    As I was quoted saying in the Strib feature, “They’re going to have to take me out of here feet first!”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, neighbors to the left are supposed to sell their prime, 4-acre land on Crystal Bay this spring, but I’ve come to fear anyone with big money. I’m a story of the Great Gadsby story. If something happens to me, I wouldn’t ever call them.


        1. yep they have good better best closets (wardrobes) that are very nice for 100 dollars or so. i always loved the old armoir but the space required for 10 sweater stash is not a good trade off. i have seen a contractor who specializes in punching a ho;e in your walls and building a closet on what used to be the unused space below the overhang outsdide under the rafters . kind of a lot of work but tit sure works good at adding the closet space needed.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. I surprised myself by actually liking the color scheme in the West end house – living/dining room is painted orange, and one bedroom is a spring green.

    One new question could be:
    In your fantasy house, what colors are the rooms?


  11. BiR’s question became urgent when, late in life, I found myself living in a home decorated by a person who had gone away. In spite of having no experience with home decoration–none at all–I had to reinvent my personal space in a way that would be appropriate for the home and right for me.

    The choice of colors was ultimately simple. I have always felt a kind of reassurance in “nature” that I rarely find in the man-made world. The most appealing colors would be earthy and organic. I painted my rooms light green and various shades of tan and cream. The tricky color choice was the bedroom. I would have chosen blue, but that was the color my erstwife had painted. I landed on peach because it was a favorite of arts and crafts artists and a major departure from blue.


  12. It might be possible to learn how to make good color choices, but I think some people naturally possess good “color sense.” I knew a woman who painted her home as a form of therapy. When she was in a mood (which was often) she would change the colors of her rooms. Really change them. The cream dining room would become fire-engine red. The gold living room would become that shade of purple found on eggplants. What surprised me was how her home always looked “right” in such different colors.


  13. In my fantasy house I would have theme rooms. One African room with savannah and acacias painted on the walls, one New Mexico theme w/ rusts and creams, turquoise. One classical Chinese w/ reds and golds. One green house kind of room w/ lots of plants. One (ok maybe two) rooms w/ nautical/lighthouse/beach themes. One w/ Artic/polar bear theme. And a room for all the money I would have to have to make such a house possible!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VS – I do have an African themed room, of sorts. The walls are cream and cocoa with similar carpeting. But the decor is mostly artifacts purchased on trips to South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. Some are framed (along with several safari wildlife photos), others are situated on bookshelves. My bedroom is painted in neutral colors but “pop” is provided by framed craftwork and artwork from Peru.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d love to see it. I have a wonderful quilted hanging that I got from Tanzania in our guest bedroom. This is the room that I fantasize about painting w/ the savannah, acacia theme.


  14. I want a Mid-Century Modern home with a rustic feel, good bones, great curb appeal, cozy but with an open concept and good flow, hidden high-end appliances, a dining room table to seat at the same time every relative who may ever visit, with a two-car garage and a large low-maintenance yard in a downtown location.
    If I cannot have that I want a tiny house with room for my three St. Bernards, two bedrooms, all the full-size appliances, a 48-inch TV, room for my wife’s shoe collection and my beer can collection, all in 226 Sq, Ft.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I confess, I do pay a little attention to the shows Sandy watches on HGTV. And by the way, remember “A happy wife makes a happy life” because apparently all young women today are nasty spoiled brats.


        1. Humorous exaggeration, of course. But if you watch those shows . . .
          My sister had a friend whose daughter appeared on House Hunters. They moved to Portland and bought a house and were then asked to be on the Show. So they toured three houses they had already toured and then picked the one they owned. Long hours of shooting. Tiring, annoying for little reward. The daughter comes across that way because they picked out whenever she said anything negative or made a pouting expression.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. my house ideas were all typed up and i ht send and it vaporized. i am in a big house now but only a littel smaller than the last houeese but the design makes all the difference. the room size location and relationship to the rest of the hhouse is vital in how the house works. i am looking ofrward to the spring with the patios and pond to act as a santuary but the living space is a bit like sitting in the midst of a jimmy johns with noise and treble everywhere. the dogs see every person who walks by
    i like to think about design when looking at houses.
    the dwell website with prefab stuff is amazing
    container houses are amazing cheap versions of that and i would like to try doing a cottage out of containers sometime.

    colors i am schizophrenic… i tend to paint stuff cream and taupe but love accents of fire engine and cobalt, orange and red are favorite color combinations i remember the art deco in funny lady with a deep green and a cream color palette making an impact.
    a color wall in a room is a cool way to add color without going into too much of a good thing. i did a magenta room as a kid and turned a 20×20 bedroom into a womb, i later painted it white (3 coats) and it was the most amazing difference. i had an electric blue kitchen with abstract expressionist refrigerator as a young man with giant pattern red glen plaid carpet, makes me smile to remember it.


  16. a bunch of you were good enough to help me out a while back on the swimming goggles and ordered them up form me.
    my next deal is to establish a facebook following and i would apprecaite your support. i am going to buzz through my facebook friends and send out invites to each.

    or go here


    i am learning how to create a brand and a strong presence on facebook and in this world of social media the likes and number of followers on your facebook page make all the difference.

    its a brave new world and your help is appreciated



    Liked by 1 person

  17. Our walls are painted a dark, sand color named Baja Dunes. I am into neutral colors. I like the things in the room to catch the eye, not the walls. The walls in the waiting room on the floor on which I work are alternately blue and yellow, which I really like.

    We were hopeful that the construction at my place of work would be finished soon, but there has been a snag. The toilets in the newly finished bathrooms were set too low. I guess the ADA requires that toilet seats be at least 17 inches off the floor, and these were set at 15 or 16 inches. Now they have to raise the toilets, which means redoing the walls and everything..


  18. That sounds like satire, Renee: rebuilding a bathroom because toilet seats are an inch too low for government specs! Like most Democrats I am more sympathetic to government than the other party, but sometimes government acts embarrassingly silly.

    I had a friend, a Canadian park ranger who was instructed to build an outhouse near a busy wilderness portage site. The government specs required a drop of six feet from the toilet seat to the bottom of the thing. But this biffy was to be created in an area of the Canadian Shield, where there is no soil, just solid granite or basalt. John struggled with the idea of getting a six foot drop when he could not dig a hole. In Canada, government regulations command obedience in a way they do not in the US. John eventually created a rock cairn six feet high, then built his biffy on top of that. People had to climb a bit to use it, but it had a six-foot drop.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. On the other hand, Steve, wouldn’t you expect a government contractor to be aware of such basic requirements? I’m pretty sure the “at least 17 inch” requirement was in place before the work was started.

      I just measured our toilet seat, and it’s 15 1/2″ off the ground, and that is low. I can see where a 17″ height would be much more comfortable for most adults, especially older people. On the other hand, Renee works with children. Is that bathroom intended for children or adults, I wonder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, PJ. It can sound foolishly bureaucratic to specify every little detail. But some folks seem to find reasons to cheat on contracts, given the chance. Maybe low toilets cost a few bucks less than taller ones. While government is criticized for insisting on details, failing to specify can encourage expensive fraud. 😦


  19. It is a good thing they put up nice grab bars since these toilets are so low that some people have a hard time getting up again.


    1. I installed a grab bar in my St Paul home when my rheumatoid arthritis was uncontrolled. It is frightening to contemplate the possibility of being unable to get up from a toilet. Before I understood I had RA I sat in a low sofa and was unable to escape it for nearly two hours.


  20. We did a couple college visits this week as the s&h had Spring Break (sort of-still had classes at the U including a math test).

    I saw exactly the house I would like on the Island. St Olaf has something they call the Art Barn next to their windmill. Completely open floor plan with a loft, lots of sustainability (orientation, solar panels, and vertical fans at the peak of the ceiling carved to look like leaves that I am guessing recirculate air for climate control).

    A security guy kindly let me in to get a better look. Sadly I only thought to take pictures after he locked up and left. But now I know where it is…..


    1. there is some really old technology called a whole house fan that during the summer sucks air in through the windows and up into the attic. it keeps hot summer air from being stifling and in the summer evenings the amount of air moving in the air after the sun goes down is all you need 90% of the time.
      the new stuff is really cool but the costs are often out in left field.
      i love the open floor plan and the recirculating and the geothermal concept before rather than after has huge potential.


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